Is a Baby Bell vs. free WiFi turf war interfering with Katrina recovery efforts?

Is a Baby Bell vs. free WiFi turf war interfering with Katrina recovery efforts?

Summary: Via Dan Gillmor and Dave Winer, the Washington Post has a story detailing how the New Orleans' plans to blanket the city with free WiFi may have stepped on enough of Bellsouth toes to cause the local Baby Bell to withdraw its offer to help the city's police department get back on its feet.  Says the Post story (see Angry BellSouth Withdrew Donation, New Orleans Says): ....

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TOPICS: Wi-Fi
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Via Dan Gillmor and Dave Winer, the Washington Post has a story detailing how the New Orleans' plans to blanket the city with free WiFi may have stepped on enough of Bellsouth toes to cause the local Baby Bell to withdraw its offer to help the city's police department get back on its feet.  Says the Post story (see Angry BellSouth Withdrew Donation, New Orleans Says):

....regional phone giant BellSouth Corp. withdrew an offer to donate one of its damaged buildings that would have housed new police headquarters, city officials said yesterday.....City officials said BellSouth was upset about the plan to bring high-speed Internet access for free to homes and businesses to help stimulate resettlement and relocation to the devastated city....BellSouth spokesman Jeff Battcher disputed the city's version of events.

Topic: Wi-Fi

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  • Telcos versus people - forever.

    Because it started as a physical business - wires and equipment to individuals from a government assisted monopoly, the 'telephone' companies love theie captive cusotmers and hate competition. A lot of years and a whole lot of money went into breaking up Ma Bell. The nine baby bells are down to two (two and a half) and it becomes ever more obvious that the attitude of arrogant dictator has stayed with them the whole time.
    1 - In business if I sell you a service (i.e. Internet access) and then I sell a lot of other people and businesses the same service, that is good. When they claim the right to control how you or I use that service it is bad. After all they hide behind the government protections of "common carrier' to avoid reponsibility for the actions of our use of that service.

    As long as the communications required wires they had a strangle hold on competition, They did not want utility companies using their own power poles to run fiber. The fought Cable companies for restrictive right of ways. As long as they 'owned' the infrastructure, no one could compete except 'government' so they bought the best legislators they could.

    Now the world is changing, If you build a subdivision in Florida, you will put in underground utilities or explain why 'you' need service every time the wind blows. Of course it is more expensive up front, but after the last two years, it is a 'requirement' for permitting.

    Wireless is a sea change in communications, we all know people who only had a land line for their computer, all their calls were on cell phones. WiFi is a service and it is making the telcos insane. They try to make it like 'wired' service and it doesn't fit. Usually by trying to prevent local operators from getting access to the big pipe to run the access points.

    Forty years after 'carterphone' the telcos still want to 'own' the customer and think greed is good business. They are still wrong.
    plumley@...